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LA Times' Penner: "I am a transsexual sportswriter."

I am a transsexual sportswriter. It has taken more than 40 years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy for me to work up the courage to type those words. Los Angeles Times HeaderI realize many readers and colleagues and friends will be shocked to read them.

That’s OK. I understand that I am not the only one in transition as I move from Mike to Christine. Everyone who knows me and my work will be transitioning as well. That will take time. And that’s all right. To borrow a piece of well-worn sports parlance, we will take it one day at a time.

Sportswriter Mike Penner announced in the Los Angeles Times today that he she is transitioning from Mike Penner to Christine Daniels.

Christine further stated:

A transgender friend provided the best and simplest explanation I have heard: We are born with this, we fight it as long as we can, and in the end it wins.

And. . .

When I told my boss Randy Harvey, he leaned back in his chair, looked through his office window to scan the newsroom and mused, “Well, no one can ever say we don’t have diversity on this staff.”

Fortunately for Christine Daniels, she lives in the most transgender friendly state in the United States. The Gender Nondiscrimination Act of 2003 (AB 196) was signed into law back in 2003, the law changed the California Government Code in two places.

First, it amended California Government Code 12926(p) which defines sex to read:

(p) “Sex” includes, but is not limited to, pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. “Sex” also includes, but is not limited to, a person’s gender, as defined in Section 422.56 of the Penal Code. California Government Code 12926 (Italicized portion is the amended language)

For the sake of statutory consistency, AB 196 did not create a new definition of gender to add to the statute. Instead it incorporated the definition from California’s Hate Crimes Statute. That statute defines gender as:

“Gender” means sex, and includes a person’s gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth. California Penal Code 422.56(c)8

Christine Daniels, through her personal journey, provides another argument for an inclusive ENDA. It’s because unlike Steve Stanton or Julie Nemecek, Mike Penner couldn’t be legally fired for beginning the transition to Christine Daniels.

Christine Daniels’ story is an example of what a law protecting people against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity can do for LGBT employees. The Gender Nondiscrimination Act of 2003 (AB 196) changed the employment climate in California; the Los Angeles Times didn’t fire her. The Times may have accomodated her transition without legislation, but as it is they don’t really have a legal choice whether or not to accomodate her — they are required by law to accomodate her transition.

And of course, Christine Daniels‘ case is one more case that proves one can be male-to-female transperson and still really, really like sports.

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Autumn Sandeen

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